Whew. Bonnaroo is no joke! I saw more strange things in one weekend than I have in my entire life (probably), and it was awesome. More on the strange things later. Let's get to the music.
I started the day at Kasey Musgraves' noon set at the Which Stage. The thing I like about Musgraves is that she is very country, but she's got a rock and roll edge. If you've heard her hit "Merry Go Round," you know she says what everyone's thinking, but won't say. It's great. And her millennial sensibilities are most obvious on "Follow Your Arrow," which she closed her set with. Fun fact: Musgraves is a pretty good whistler! The crowd loved the line in that final song about rolling up a joint, and Musgraves ad-libbed "and pass that [stuff]," which the crowd also loved. Now, there weren't as many people at the stage as there was for, say, Solange, but was still a sizable crowd.
Here is a DO: Hats. No hat is too silly to wear by Sunday. There were tons of those circular-pyramid-shaped coolie hats around, plenty of fedoras, bucket hats, and baseball caps. There were definitely some top hats and (ironic) cowboy hats. I even saw a crocheted beanie.
I just barely made it to the Rubens' show before it ended at This Tent. Sam Margin, the lead singer of the band, spoke to the press on Saturday for a few minutes, and was completely charming (and very clean). The band hails from Australia, and have only been together since 2011. Their lead guitarist is really great, actually. They're more rock and roll live than their album (and general cleanliness) would suggest! After their set, they snuck back out on stage and shook hands with the fans that stuck around. How nice!
Sunday was the first time (!) I had time to eat something other than a granola bar or an apple I packed for myself, so I got a salad wrap. It was $10, but there was a LOT in it. I couldn't even wrap it properly. And the sauce got everywhere. It was still pretty tasty.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis played at the What Stage, and drew a huge crowd, as expected. The Seattle rapper is as goofy and funny as he's always appeared to be, and he's as good a rapper live as he is on his album. I'm a casual fan of his, so I enjoyed the jams, but it was his interactions with the crowd that amused me the most. He complimented Bonnaroo-goers' style, and pointed out a guy wearing a fur coat. "It's 88 degrees and this man is wearing a fur jacket. You are an insane man," Macklemore said before asking for the jacket to be crowd surfed to the stage. I guess it turned out to be a bobcat fur coat, though I can't verify that. After Macklemore donned it for "Thrift Shop," he addressed critics of fur clothing by saying he wanted to honor the bobcat's life by crowd surfing it back to its owner. Not sure about that one, but I'll go with it.
I hopped over to see Baroness at This Tent and caught the last 15 minutes of their set. They were the opposite side of the coin as far as banter goes. They kept the chatting to a minimum and just played good music. They also had some cool blue lights on stage and tons of fog. The one time they really did take a minute to talk to the audience was to thank them for their support during the past year (through a bus crash in the UK and some band members leaving this past spring). "There's no way we would've come back out if there wasn't any support," said lead singer John Baizley.
The last show I saw (I had to beat traffic, guys) was Kendrick Lamar. I've listened to his album Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City, and I generally liked it. His voice sounds much older than Lamar really is (25). It's very raspy and aggressive. He may be from Compton, California, but I've always heard more New York influences in his verses and style. The best thing about this show (at the What Stage) was the group of bros who were doing their best (or worst) twerking impressions.
People carried around a lot of weird stuff at Bonnaroo. Most of them were group totems and flags, but there were also a handful of inflatable whales, kites, and at least one kiddie pool. The best flag I saw was Grumpy Cat's face with "Nope" printed below it. My favorite totem pole was a purple flamingo wearing Mardi Gras beads at the Wu-Tang Clan show, but there was also a small deer skull with antlers walking around.
I'm also convinced that most of the people there dress like regular tax payers when they get home, and just have a separate wardrobe for music festivals.
The coolest thing about Bonnaroo, though, is that everyone's there to hear good music and have a great time, with their freak flags flying high. And that's definitely a DO.